Partyfully Yours: Champagne Taste… Beer Budget! 4 Ways an Events Planner Can Manage These Client Issues

By Duchess Magazine

dreamstime_m_9911358-400x600As event planners, with special focus on the shower industry, we have come across all kinds of clients that want glitz and glam but are not willing to pay for it. They are the ones who screen grab all the outlandish and elaborate decorations from BellaNaija Weddings, graciously bombard our WhatsApp with all the pictures, and finally state “We are on a very small budget”. They forget that most times, price is a reflection of value.

Every event vendor, regardless of the scale or type of business i.e. wedding planner, wedding decorator, bridal shower planner, cooperate event planners etc., will definitely be able to relate to this. How do you deal with and manage such clients?

Here are 4 steps that have worked for us:

Manage your client’s expectations
Whilst it’s good to encourage your client to expect the best, we have learnt that it is necessary that you manage their expectations. Be very hesitant to promise or commit to what you cannot deliver. Sometimes clients get so excited and get carried away with their expectations that they forget to put their budget into perspective. Be straight and open with your client, and let them know what is attainable with their budget, however, encourage them to increase their budget to meet their desired expectations. We once had a client who sent us Instagram screen grabs from one of the most expensive decorators in Lagos, asking that her event be styled the exact way and not willing to spend the required costs. Luckily for us, we have a good relationship with the original decorator, who we contacted and asked for quotations for that event. We in turn forwarded this to our client and suffice to say, this brought our client back to her reality.

Agree on the must-haves and the nice-to-haves
After succeeding in managing your client’s expectations, you should then try to see how to help them manage their budget wisely. Get clarity on the things that are must-haves for your clients, and the things that are nice-to-haves. Do not assume or decide for your clients what their must haves and nice to haves are. From our little years of experience, we have realized that every client is different.
In the simplest form, must-haves are any requirements that absolutely have to be delivered for the event to be considered successful. This helps create the base set of expectations with the client. On the other hand, nice to haves are the complement of objectives or requirements that are considered desired or even important to the overall deliverable, but can be considered as non- critical in the overall execution of the event. When you agree on must-haves and nice to have, be sure you understand the scope of the must-haves. If the bride’s wearables are must-haves, for instance, make sure you are clear on what the client expects. Is it a sash and tiara only? Or a full outfit is expected? This is important to prevent conflicts.

Suggest similar & cheaper alternatives to your clients
Yes indeed, this is another way to go about this. This is a good approach when you can tell the client has been price-comparing vendors. In these modern times of social media, you will find that some clients are more concerned about the glitz & glam than the actual quality and content of the package. Most of them would actually just be satisfied with having an event that ‘looked’ expensive, than an event that was actually expensive, so suggesting cheaper alternatives might be a way out. Even if it won’t work for them they’ll still appreciate your effort. You can also suggest to your client to look inward for some of their must haves in order to save money. For instance, is there a friend that bakes that can bring the cake for the shower? Instead of hiring an actual Dj, can one of the guests prepare a playlist and come with a mobile speaker.

Always remember, not every job is yours
What do you do when you have tried all you can and all fails? Remember, not every job is yours. This is one of the very first lessons we learnt the hard way. If you see that your client is neither willing to increase her budget or manage her expectations, it may be wise to opt out of the job, than taking on something you can’t deliver and in turn disappointing your client or run at a loss. There will always be clients that do not understand the value in decoration and planning, and therefore will not understand your pricing.

Don’t waste time on these clients; they often turn into a huge headache later on, because they want everything for nothing. If they are being very pushy about your prices from the beginning, take this as a red flag. This means they may complain about invoices later on and be a pain when it comes to collecting your balance.

Finally, do not compromise your standards for any client. They approached you because you maintained a certain standard anyway. Do not be pressured to deliver something you will not be proud of because you are trying to fit into a budget that is not workable.
Are you an event decorator, or even just an entrepreneur? How often do you come across these types of clients, please feel free to share with us your own styles and methods of handling such scenarios.

Photo Credit: Jason Stitt |

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